ST. AGATHA – A proposal to open a public library in this central St. John Valley community received a huge boost this week with a $50,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.
The group has been looking to raise $250,000 to open and fund the library. It said two weeks ago it needed $50,000 to renovate an empty space at Montfort Heights.
According to the group’s president, Jackie Ayotte, the group had raised $68,000 through donations as of Wednesday.
“This [the King grant] is going to make our library a reality,” Ayotte said Thursday.
A hunger for knowledge and information has driven the group of residents to plan the town’s first-ever public library. The only library in town is the student library at Wisdom High School.
The local group started its quest for a public library last winter.
It has acquired federal nonprofit status, making donations tax-deductible, and identified a possible location for the library.
An empty area at Montfort Heights – a senior citizen housing complex and a former boarding school facility – will fill the need. The 1,100-square-foot room would be large enough for books and computer equipment.
Estimates to make the Montfort Heights room workable came in at $50,000.
A survey done on Election Day last March showed that more than 50 percent of the people who voted were interested in a public library.
Ayotte said many people were concerned that they don’t have access to a library within the community.
The group has received book donations from the Acadian Heritage Council and the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor.
The group wants to create a section for children, have computers and Internet access, and provide an area for historical research that would make resources of the St. Agatha Historical Society available year-round. It also hopes to have reading programs, guest lecturers and other activities.
A facility in St. Agatha would be available to people around Long Lake, from the Unorganized Territory and Sinclair. Tourists also come to St. Agatha, and some have asked for library facilities, Ayotte said.
Along with Ayotte, members of the volunteer group are Richard Smith, Florine Michaud, Terry Ouellette, Philip Morin, Denyse Michaud, Jeanne Chamberland, Joyce Crosby and Maynard Martin.
The group’s Web site is linked to the town’s Web site at www.stagatha.com, and its mailing address is the Long Lake Public Library, P.O. Box 33, St. Agatha 04772.